More people applying for a visitor visa, for a study or work permit, or for permanent residence in Canada will need to provide biometric information from the 31st of December.

Applicants from Europe, the Middle East and Africa already need to do so since July, and now the collection programme is being extended to those from Asia, Asia Pacific and the Americas.

Biometrics


It means that they will need to give their fingerprints and a photo when applying for these documents and they will need to go in person to give their biometrics. Most will do this at a visa application centre (VAC) before they leave for Canada.

Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen explained that having biometrics makes it easier for immigration and border services officers to stop individuals who pose a risk to the safety and security of Canadians.

It also helps officials verify travellers’ identities, makes processing applications easier and simplifies entry for legitimate travellers.

The Government of Canada has been taking steps to make the biometrics process as smooth as possible. This includes expanding its worldwide network of VACs and there are now 152 VACs in 103 countries and allowing applicants to go to any VAC in any country they are legally allowed to enter. If already legally in the United States, applicants can go to one of 135 Application Support Centres.

Hussen pointed out that the Government of Canada continues to closely monitor the impact of requiring biometrics to ensure that the level of service available meets the needs of applicants. Canada will be providing periodic biometrics collection services in specific locations as needed. More information on additional services will be announced at a later date.

There are also facilitative measures for those who make repeat visits to the country. For example, those coming to visit, study or work temporarily will only need to give their biometrics once every 10 years.

Privacy will be protected and the Canadian Government has been working with the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada to protect applicants’ personal information when collecting, using and sharing biometric information. Canada’s policies are based on the best practices of international partners, who are increasingly relying on biometrics.

‘Collecting biometrics from most foreign travellers coming to Canada makes sense on so many levels. It strengthens the integrity of our immigration system, while helping protect the safety and security of Canadians,’ said Hussen.

‘Not only does biometrics collection give us a reliable, accurate tool to establish a traveller’s identity, but it also improves our ability to process applications and the entry of people upon arrival in Canada,’ he added.

Biometrics have been required from applicants in support of temporary resident visa, work permit or study permit applications from 29 countries and one territory since 2013.

There are some exemptions to biometrics expansion such as Canadian citizens, citizenship applicants, including passport applicants, or existing permanent residents, US visa holders transiting via Canada, children under the age of 14 and applicants over the age of 79.

Heads of State and heads of Government are also exempt along with cabinet ministers and accredited diplomats of other countries and the United Nations, coming to Canada on official business

Visa-exempt nationals coming to Canada as tourists do not have to give their biometrics. However, they will need to give biometrics if applying for a study or work permit, or for permanent residency.